Chaffee County is surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The county has twelve peaks which rise above 14,000 feet in elevation, the greatest number of “Fourteeners” in the state. Chaffee County consists of 1,040 square miles of land area, and includes the city of Salida and the towns of Buena Vista and Poncha Springs. There are approximately 10,000 residents who reside outside of the cities and towns of the county, with several thousand more part-timers returning to their second homes during the spring and summer.
Each year thousands of visitors come to Chaffee County to enjoy the beauty and the many outdoor activities in the valley and surrounding mountains.
Approximately 18% of the county is privately owned. The other 82% is public land managed by the State of Colorado and the Federal Government. Monarch Ski and Snowboard, located 20 minutes west of Salida, is known for its great skiing on all natural snow. The Arkansas River runs north to south through the center of the county, and provides excellent whitewater rafting, kayaking, and fishing opportunities. The entire Arkansas River corridor is overseen by a unique cooperative joint management team comprised of the Colorado State Parks Office and the Bureau of Land Management. The Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area provides recreation opportunities to more than 700,000 guests per year. The majority of the mountain terrain is supervised by the United States Forest Service. Mountain climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and four wheel drive excursions are popular outdoor events. The county has two commercial hot springs swimming pools that are very popular with locals and visitors alike.
The upper Arkansas Valley has a rich heritage of ranching, farming, and mining. Over the years the mining boom has played out, but ranching and farming are still very viable industries within the county. The past decade has seen the development of light industry and tourism. The Buena Vista Correctional Complex, located just south of Buena Vista, has become one of the major employers in the county. The Salida and Buena Vista school districts are significant employers as well.
Welcome to Chaffee County. We’re confident you’ll enjoy your stay with us as much as we look forward to serving you.